Vaccine, mask both required to stop Delta spread

The Delta variant of coronavirus, first detected in India, has been found in over 80 countries and is responsible for 90 per cent of all new and 20 per cent of infections in UK and US respectively. The variant is a big cause of worry even in nations where the pandemic was thought to be contained.

This variant spreads faster because it can easily latch onto cells in our bodies although the data is not clear if it makes people sicker. Thankfully, studies so far have shown that vaccines work against the delta variant.

The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority or NCEMA yesterday blamed delta for one in three Coronavirus cases in the country.

However, it said, Beta is the most common strain at 39.2 per cent, Delta is at 33.9per cent and Alpha is at 11.3 per cent. The NCEMA said the number of deaths had increased due to the spread of mutations, people not following rules and failing to take the vaccine.

Yesterday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to overcome hesitancy and get COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible as concerns grow about the highly infectious variant. India, which has so far vaccinated less than 6 per cent of population, is racing against time to inoculate the country’s 940 million adults amid supply constraints and fears of a third wave of pandemic.

While the variant is virulent, international experts, including those from the World Health Organisation (WHO) insist that both the vaccination and mask lower the probability of spreading the virus and lowers the risk of severe disease.

Therefore, even in countries which are close to achieving 100 per cent inoculation, wearing of mask in public places must remain part of COVID-19 safety protocols. In recent days, several countries including Germany, Australia, Italy, Israel and South Africa have announced measures to contain the spread of this variant.

Australia’s largest city Sydney entered a two-week lockdown on Saturday and Russia’s Saint Petersburg announced a record death toll. The variant is stoking fears of another big outbreak in many countries.

There is growing consensus worldwide that Delta is spreading faster than previously feared and that is why countries which are planning to lift restrictions must rethink their preventive strategies.

Experts say mask and vaccination should be able to prevent large outbreaks and that even vaccinated population must continue to cover their face in public areas. This message must be clearly sent out by governments and a lowering of guard at this juncture may prove to be disastrous.

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